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Day 169 Racking the Eastern Cascade Waterfall Amber (Hops Experiment)

Trub in the bottom of primary fermentation bucket after racking.

Trub in the bottom of primary fermentation bucket after racking.

It’s Sunday and the Eastern Cascade Waterfall American Amber has slowed way down on fermentation action, so I racked to secondary. The hops experiment continues. I used 1/2 oz fresh Cascade hops that were vacuum sealed in jars and frozen…that went in the thirty minute boil at the beginning. Then, I added 1 oz fresh Cascade hops that partially dried on the bines and finished drying in my attic at the 15 minute point. Now, I’ve added another ounce of the dried ones to secondary for dry hopping.

Racked onto 1 oz dried Cascade hops.

Racked onto 1 oz dried Cascade hops.

I’m anticipating a 5 day dry hop and either bottling or racking and another couple of days to settle. I’ll make that decision after the dry hop.

I took a sample to check the specific gravity (SG) and the reading was 1.014 at 68.2 F, so it would be 1.015 after adjustment for temperature.

Hydrometer sample.

Hydrometer sample.

That is exactly the estimated FG for the recipe. The color looks good…nothing off in the aroma. I refrigerated the sample to settle and chill and I’ll try it again later, but the initial sip of the sample seems pretty good. I’m not expecting a WOW! beer from a mostly DME brew (dry malt extract), but it seems pretty good.

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Day 168 Brew Day! Partial Mash with Cascade Hops Experiment

Ingredients for an experimental partial mash brew, with DME, grain steep and whole frozen hops and dried hops.

Ingredients for an experimental partial mash brew, with DME, grain steep and whole frozen hops and dried hops.

I have a friend whose son started planting Cascade hops in her garden four years ago. This year, he got a job at a brewery, out of town and wasn’t going to be around to harvest the hops. I was invited over to pick some. Fresh hops! What to do, what to do? I wasn’t ready to use them. I had never used fresh hops before and had no clue how to handle them. Thinking that the best thing was to have them as fresh as possible, I vacuum sealed them in canning jars and put them in the freezer.

Jar of whole hops that was vacuum sealed and frozen.

Jar of whole hops that was vacuum sealed and frozen.

I subsequently heard from a number of people that freezing fresh hops was not a good decision. They would likely become soft and slimey. Flavor was a  big question. One recommendation was to keep them frozen right up until putting them into the boil. So, that’s what I did…right into a little nylon bag and tossed right into the boil.

Some time later, my friend said I should come pick some more. When I arrived this time, instead of big, green cones, most of the hops were drying and turning brown. In addition, it was misty that morning and the “dry” hops were damp. I brought them home and put them in a large cardboard box and put them in the attic to finish drying. After several days, they were nice and dry, but I was concerned about the browning. They had plenty of appropriate aroma, though.

Since I have recently finished up some projects and had some Dry Malt Extract (DME) and a couple kinds of yeast on hand, I decided to try a smaller batch of beer and use some of each of the styles of Cascade hops, vacuum sealed frozen and vacuum sealed dried. I worked on a partial mash recipe and created an American Amber Ale that I’m calling Eastern Cascade Waterfall Ale. The yeast is a White Labs East Coast Ale yeast.

Boiling with the bags of hops...this is just after the 15 minute addition.

Boiling with the bags of hops…this is just after the 15 minute addition.

Eastern Cascade Waterfall Ale (American Amber, Single Hop, Partial Mash)

Batch size 3 gallons, 30 minute steep, 30 minute boil

Fermentables:

3 lb DME-Pilsen, boil 30 minutes

8 0z DME-Light, boil 30 minutes

1 lb American-Caramel/Crystal 60L, Grain sock steep 30 minutes @150F in 3.5 gallons strike water

Hops:

0.5 oz Cascade Fresh/Wet (Note: I used frozen, vacuum sealed in a jar.) Boil 30 minutes (in nylon bag)

1 oz Cascade Dried, Whole/Leaf,  Boil 15 minutes (in nylon bag)

1 oz Cascade Dried, Whole/Leaf, Dry hop (in nylon bag) in secondary, 5 days

Other:

Irish Moss (fining) Boil 15 minutes

Yeast: White Labs East Coast Ale Yeast, 1 vial, Optimum temp. 68-73F, 72.5% attenuation    (Note: I used harvested yeast and prepared a starter.)

Original Gravity: 1.053,      Final Gravity: 1.015,       ABV 5.04%     IBU (tinseth) 36.99     SRM (morey) 12.69

After the boil, I chilled to 68F in an ice water bath and tranferred to a bottling bucket for primary fermentation. I had a little under 3 gallons of wort, so I added enough Culligan bottled water to top it off to 3.25 gallons. The plan is to have 3 gallons to bottle after racking to secondary. I aerated with an oxygen stone for 2 minutes (or you could agitate/rock for 5 minutes).  Yeast pitched and fermentation bucket sealed and an airlock was installed at 1:05 pm.  As of 8:30 pm, signs of activity were evident in the airlock, though not aggressive. Unfortunately, I have no idea of the pitch rate. That’s one area (of several) that I have had no experience with figuring out.

Initial impression was positive…no weird or off flavors or aromas were noticeable. Color is a nice brown; perhaps a little darker than I anticipated, but all the indicators match the American Amber style, according to my recipe calculator. I did hit my Original Gravity (OG) number pretty closely. The recipe calls for 1.053 and I measured mine at 1.055 on my refractometer. Good brew day!

One update: the Scottish Samhain Pumpkin Ale has been in the bottles for 11 days now. I opened one of my two test bottles, at room temperature, and poured a small sample. The sample looked clear and, frankly, the aroma and flavor are amazing.

Finshed the chilled bottle later.

Finshed the chilled bottle later.

Scottish Samhain Pumpkin Ale sample.

Scottish Samhain Pumpkin Ale sample.

I recapped the bottle and stuck it in the refrigerator for later. I did open and drink the rest of the bottle tonight and my assessment stands. It is low on the carbonation, though not flat.  I hope that the carb will continue to improve over the next few weeks.

Update on the Eastern Cascade Waterfall: By 8 pm, there was sign of action in the airlock, but it was slow. By the morning after brew day, the airlock is happily chugging away, so my yeast starter appears to be a success!

Update 10/30/14: Eastern Cascade Waterfall Amber airlock action is slowing to a crawl. Probably going into secondary Sunday. Might just get it bottled by middle or end of next week. Lots of choices for Thanksgiving this year!

 

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Day 141 Bottling Cherry Belle Saison

Cherry Belle Saison

Cherry Belle Saison

I made a rookie mistake this morning. I got all set up to bottle a small batch and I started filling the bottles without having added any priming sugar. D’oh! So, I quickly cleaned and sanitized a 2 gallon fermentation bucket, consulted Northern Brewer’s priming sugar calculator and got on with the little task of priming. The calculator recommended 1.33 oz (using corn sugar) for a 1 gallon batch at 78F. I have a history of over-carbing, and this was recommended at 3.2 volumes of CO2 for a saison style, so I went with 1.25 oz. Not a big reduction…nothing to do but wait and see how it turns out.

Oops...started bottling without priming sugar! Put it in reverse!

Oops…started bottling without priming sugar! Put it in reverse!

I added the priming sugar to about 8 oz warm water to dissolve and added it to the bucket. I poured the bottles I had filled onto the sugar mixture and then racked the balance of the beer onto it and mixed it well. I rinsed and sanitized the bottles and started over with the bottling. I was able to fill 11 bottles with just enough left over for a small sip to taste.

Yielded 11 bottles.

Yielded 11 bottles.

The color imparted by the cherries is beautiful…love it! The aroma is definitely cherry and there’s a little alcohol there. As for the flavor, there’s good cherry there. At this point, however, I’m not getting any of the bittering from the Citra hops and no saison character from the yeast. I’m going to give this 2 months to bottle condition though, so I’m hoping some more complexity develops.  I’m second guessing myself now on the decision not to dry hop this little batch. Ah well, relax, it’s just home brew beer, right? At the worst, it will be a fizzy alcoholic cherry drink.

Yesterday, I racked the main batch of Citra Belle Saison to secondary with a dry hop bag containing one ounce of Citra hops pellets. I love the smell of these when you cut open the packet! Wow!

Racking to secondary.

Racking to secondary.

DSC05272

 

Anyway, I didn’t get a chance to write it up, but everything went smoothly. I decided to take a shot at harvesting a second round of Belle Saison yeast, just to see how it does. I only saved one jar…just play with.

Washing yeast. Decanted yeast to a small jar after it settled.

Washing yeast. Decanted yeast to a small jar after it settled.

The Citra Belle Saison will get about 5 days on the hops before bottling, so may be bottling Saturday.

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Day 140 Pasteurizing Tepache, Bottling Ginger Beer, Racking Cherry Belle Saison

Pasteurizing.

Pasteurizing.

 

I decided to go ahead and pasteurize the Peach-Pineapple Tepache. The test bottle was pretty hard. The sample I tasted was lightly carbonated, but I didn’t want to take a chance of overcarbing. I filled my pressure canner body, with the false bottom, with hot water. I used the bottles to be pasteurized as a measure of how much water to use. This served an additional purpose: warmed the bottles a little before pasteurization. I removed the bottles and put the pot on the stove. I brought the water up to 180F and removed the pot from the heat, placed the bottles in, partially covered with the lid, and set a timer for ten minutes.

Lid mostly covering the bottles.

Lid mostly covering the bottles.

Bottles in, off heat, at 180F

Bottles in, off heat, at 180F

When time was up, I removed the bottles to a towel on the counter to cool.

Pasteurized bottles, cooling.

Pasteurized bottles, cooling.

My next project was to bottle the non-alcoholic ginger beer.

Strained ginger beer (non-alcoholic)

Strained ginger beer (non-alcoholic)

I strained the solids out through a cheesecloth and the used a siphon and bottle wand to fill cleaned/sanitized bottles and capped them. They will need to carb for at least 24 hours and then be pasteurized.I believe this batch is too sweet, but I followed the recipe. I put the ginger and spices back into the fermentation bucket. Since they only sat for 24 hours, I feel like there is more flavor to give. So, I’m making a “second runnings” ginger beer that I am going to allow to ferment and produce alcohol.

"Second Runnings"

“Second Runnings”

I added 4 cups of water and measured the OG at 1.062. I may reduce the sugar a little in future batches.  Anyway, I put the bucket back on the heating pad and wrapped it in the Space Blanket.

Next, I got a quart of Culligan bottled water and boiled it for ten minutes and, while it was boiling, I siphoned the the Cherry Belle Citra Saison into a 1 gallon glass carboy for a tertiary stage, leaving behind the cherries and a little sediment.

Secondary leftovers from the Cherry Belle Citra Saison

Secondary leftovers from the Cherry Belle Citra Saison

The color is really nice and the cherry flavor is good. I think this will benefit from a little aging. After the boiled water chilled in the refrigerator, I topped off the saison to a gallon. It didn’t take the whole quart…maybe a pint. I’ll let this settle for a couple of days and then bottle it.

Racked Cherry Belle Citra Saison, before top-off.

Racked Cherry Belle Citra Saison, before top-off.

As for the main batch of Belle Citra Saison, I did an SG check and it was 1.000 at 83F. That’s 1.003, corrected for temperature. This should be ready to rack to secondary any time. When I do rack it, I’ll be dry hopping with an ounce of citra pellets.

Main Belle Citra Saison hydrometer sample.

Main Belle Citra Saison hydrometer sample.

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Day 107 Dry Hopping the IPA

The airlock has slowed to a crawl on the IPA, after 4 days, so I’m adding the Nelson Sauvin hops pellets for the dry hopping stage. They should be in about 4 days and then I’ll rack to secondary for clearing, if the SG is where it’s supposed to be. I’ll make sure the fermentation is done before bottling.

Nelson Sauvin hops for dry hopping stage

Nelson Sauvin hops for dry hopping stage

Of course, I sanitized everything. I was planning on dropping the hops pellets into a little nylon bag, but decided against it at the last minute. I went ahead and just dropped them in and gave a light stir. I took a tiny bit into the spoon and tasted it and it is very bitter. I hope it will mellow a little bit in that respect. I know IPA’s are supposed to be bitter, but wow! At any rate, the dry hopping is in. The fermenter is resealed.

Nelson Sauvin hops pellets added to the IPA.

Nelson Sauvin hops pellets added to the IPA.

By the way, I like the smell of  hops pellets. I’ve smelled several now and they all have a component in common, with different intensities and subtle differences. I don’t really have the words and experience to really go more in depth, but I will say that there is a distinct difference with the Nelson Sauvin. It will be an interesting beer, for sure.

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